[…] Because of the new law, employers can now use wage adjustments to reimburse employees for individual policies (as long as they haven’t had a group policy in the past twelve months), which wasn’t allowed at all in the past. But the use of HRAs to fund individual policies can now only be done if the employer hasn’t had a group policy in the past twelve months, and that restriction wasn’t found in the DOI final agency order regarding HRAs. […]
[…] However, it appears that the Colorado Division of Insurance has repealed its 2009 order regarding the use of HRA funds to purchase individual health insurance. Final Agency Order O-11-064 details the questions involved (including issues regarding eligibility for CoverColorado) and concludes that “Self-funded employee benefit plans sponsored by a private company such as an HRA, are employee benefit plans under ERISA and are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Commissioner.” […]
A survey conducted by the Lockton Benefit Group found that premiums for employer-sponsored group health insurance policies in Colorado were increasing by an average of 14.4% for 2011, which was “significantly higher than reported nationally.” This was the tenth year in a row that premiums saw double digit increases, but the current increase is the largest in five years, and most employers surveyed (more than 73%) plan to make plan changes or increase employee contributions to offset the large rate increases. […]
[…] The extra $1000 per worker that Wal-Mart is planning to contribute to the HRAs will definitely help employees to offset routine costs, and will hopefully encourage more of them to enroll in the company’s health insurance policy. But it will still be a struggle for many families to come up with the rest of the high deductible in the event of a serious illness or injury, if the family relies on wages from Wal-Mart to cover all of their living expenses.
I like a system that rewards people who put aside money to pay for medical bills. We encourage our clients in Colorado to apply for high deductible health insurance and set up HSAs if they are able to do so. But tax breaks for health care shouldn’t be limited to those who have the means to fund an HSA, or to people with very high medical bills relative to their income. […]